Harvard Health Supports the Benefits of Walking with Poles (aka Nordic Walking)!
By guest blogger Mandy Shintani Reg. OT (BC ) & Gerontologist
Nordic Walking is currently one of the fastest growing forms of fitness globally, but its benefits extend far beyond metabolic benefits. Currently, there are 280+ published studies on PubMed which highlight the benefits of Nordic walking aka Urban Poling/pole walking for rehabilitation. Benefits span across a wide spectrum of chronic conditions including Parkinson’s, Multiple Sclerosis, spinal and orthopedic conditions including pre/post hip & knee surgery.
In a recent 2019 Harvard Health publication, Dr. Baggish, director of the Cardiovascular Performance Program at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital, sites “When you walk without poles, you activate muscles below the waist. When you add Nordic poles, you activate all of the muscles of the upper body as well; you’re engaging 80% to 90% of your muscles, as opposed to 50%, providing a substantial calorie-burning benefit.”. Baggish also explains, “You’re much more stable when you use poles, because you have more ground contact points and you’re not relying on two feet alone.”
In Canada and other parts of the world including the UK, Ireland and Australia, the rehabilitative benefits of using specially designed poles are widely accepted and are prescribed as an effective alternative to canes, crutches and walkers.
A current pilot program being conducted at the Royal National Orthopedic hospital in London, UK evaluated Activator Poles and found improvement in healthy adults’ posture was statistically significant in comparison to elbow crutches and walking sticks (canes). Rickenbach et al (current).
While the concept of walking poles for rehabilitation is new in the USA, many American therapists are recognizing the benefits. Iowa based PT, Jon Schultz was recently featured on WHO TV channel 13 and stated: “The great thing about the poles is it gets them out of their mind and they start using their body how it was designed”.
For more information about the research and the Activator Poles developed by a therapist for rehabilitation, visit www.urbanpoling.com or stop by the Urban Poling booth #640 at the upcoming APTA CSM. Seated and standing exercises with Activator Poles can be found in PT-Connect home exercise prescription software.
Mandy is an occupational therapist, gerontologist and the founder of Urban Poling. Her mission is to inspire all Canadians toward active living and wellness through innovative pole designs and education. As an avid proponent of life long fitness, she has experienced herself how Urban Poling fuels a healthy and fun lifestyle that includes, using poles with other exhilarating activities such as snowshoeing, hiking and adventure travel, which she is passionate about. As a therapist, her design of our patented ACTIVATOR Poles was rooted in her desire to create a tool that would revolutionize mobility and rehabilitation programs. She is an international presenter and is considered to be one of the leading experts on this activity. She was a finalist at the YWCA Women of Distinction Awards in the category of Innovation and Entrepreneurship.